Free Public Transport

  • Implement free public transport for everyone in Scotland to fight poverty, pollution, and social isolation together.
  • Democratic public ownership of public transport in Scotland – including buses, rail, ferries, subway, and tram networks.
  • Invest in thousands of new, well-paid, fully unionised green jobs in renewing transport fleets and essential infrastructure.

Democratic Public Ownership

We face catastrophic climate crises, rampant poverty, and growing inequality. We all rely on public transport in some form. That means we need a free public transport system fit for the 21st century.

Road traffic accounts for 73% of air pollution – cars alone for 45% of it. We need free public transport to fight poverty and pollution together.

The Scottish Socialist Party supports the democratic public ownership of public transport in Scotland. That includes buses, rail, ferries, subway, and tram networks.

Privatisation and deregulation of public transport services have resulted in soaring fares, job losses, and cuts to essential services in local communities around the country. Public transport should be a public service, not a money-making machine for a handful of millionaire capitalist owners who make a packet out of the privatisation racket.

Needless competition between rival privatised bus companies creates traffic chaos. Train timetables are being slashed, and ticket offices shut. Fares are rising beyond people’s reach, leaving the poorest in terrible social isolation. Ferry services face chaos due to ageing ferries.

We want to make different branches of public transport cooperative, not competitive. Deliver a connected system that improves access, with a single ticket, multi-service system linking Scotland together, and incentivise more public transport use through free public transport, routes that fit community needs, and accessible services.

We can and must build a public transport is a service democratically accountable to the communities it serves, with democratic, elected boards of management involving workers, communities, passengers, and representatives of local and national government.

Free Public Transport

For over 20 years, the SSP has pioneered the fight for a vastly expanded, integrated, free public transport system – when every other political party opposed the idea. SSP MSPs introduced a free public transport Bill to Holyrood in 2006.

Free public transport fights poverty and pollution together by reducing car dependency and improving accessibility for everyone. Free public transport and expanded service provision bring communities together and tackle loneliness and isolation. It also brings improved access to job opportunities, public services, retail, sports, hospitality, and leisure – returning on the public investment by boosting our economy right when it needs it most.

The public already pays for public transport through personal costs and heavy subsidies to private companies. Instead, let’s fund free public transport.

Free public transport is already an established principle, with fare-free travel already on offer to many people. This is a small-scale version of what the SSP has argued for over 20 years. We need to expand free public transport to include everyone. This has already been done in cities across Europe.

COP26 delegates were given the benefit of free public transport, while the public were left with rip-off fares and unreliable services. If free public transport is good enough for COP26, it’s good enough for all of us.

Green Jobs in Scotland

The SSP fully supports transport workers taking action over pay, jobs, and conditions.

The STUC’s “Green Jobs in Scotland” research has found that 60,000 jobs could be created in Scotland by upgrading and operating public transport – including 33,845 jobs in the first two years through an investment of £3.9 billion.

In comparison, the UK’s failed Test and Trace system cost £37 billion in its first year.

Scandals like job losses at Alexander Dennis must never be allowed to happen again. Instead, as part of a Socialist Green New Deal, manufacturing sites and shipyards can be taken into public ownership, creating jobs and rebuilding our essential manufacturing base.